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ACLU Work & Wellbeing Business Leadership

It’s time for the ad industry to act in the wake of Roe v Wade

By Ann Wool, President

June 29, 2022 | 4 min read

The reversal of Roe v Wade has left many in the ad industry stunned. Ann Wool offers a very real reaction to the news as well as a path forward during this tumultuous moment.

Roe v. Wade

Regardless of what side of the battle lines you sit on, most of us have spent the past six days in disbelief at the overturning of Roe v Wade. It happened! The first question facing us as business leaders is assessing the implications on our colleagues across the country.

Most companies (including ours) have stepped in to offer health plans to cover reproductive care nationwide and provide both time and travel support for those in states where abortion is now illegal. Not since the murder of George Floyd have I seen the people of our company be rocked to their core and we are trying to offer support as best we can and stay true to our values of actions not words.

From my seat, as a woman, mom, sister, aunt, and friend, I believe our fundamental right to make informed choices about our bodies has been erased. Perhaps many of us in our industry — those who are naive like me — could not fathom that this would happen. But it did, and the women and families this impacts live in every community in the country putting countless women in danger.

This news broke on an unforgettable day as I was celebrating my son’s graduation from Brooklyn Technical High School. Around 1,500 hopeful, ambitious kids made their way across the stage in the house named for the great Arthur Ashe. President Bill Clinton and Senator Chuck Schumer each turned up to speak to the kids about standing for what they believe in, taking risks, bridging divides, being kind and seeing people. They talked about the privilege these kids’ great New York City public Specialized High School education affords them to do important things in the world and for the country — the same country that just overturned 50 years of progress.

Consider that in 2020, $8.5 billion was spent on political ad campaigns across the political spectrum. When we ask ourselves what we should and could do about it now, we know without a doubt that we, the advertising industry, were very much part of the equation that got us here in the first place. Many in our industry have been, and continue to be, well-compensated to make campaigns for candidates who are vehemently opposed to a woman’s right to choose and helped ensure states were ready to flip the minute the Supreme Court decision landed.

So, now what? There is only one way to have any chance of undoing what has been done and that is to galvanize voters in key states to come out and vote for representatives and senators.

Obviously, we have the unique ability to story tell, make films and use words that inspire action — in some bizarre irony that creative genius was being celebrated in Cannes at the very moment this decision came down. But stories with no audience is a tree falling in the forest, so storytellers are beholden to the generosity of media partners to reach the influencers and voters needed to make an impact.

To those of you who care and feel the way I do, please join me in channeling your frustrations and anger into action. We, as individuals, must act and support organizations that are established on the ground doing the hard work for all of us like the ACLU and The United State of Women Reproductive Justice Hub and Rock the Vote.

We owe it to our kids, our colleagues, our partners, and our communities to get involved and stay involved.

Ann Wool is president of Translation. The views represented here are her own and do not reflect that of her agency.

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